HOLTVILLE — Ronnie Leimgruber, of Ronald C. Leimgruber Farms, showcased a new linear overhead irrigation system (by Valmont Industries) at his farm property in Holtville Thursday, December 12, where local farmers and irrigators were invited to see the state-of-the-art equipment at work.
"This form of irrigation has been around for a while but is new to the Valley,” said Farm Manager Andrew Leimgruber about the linear overhead irrigation system.
According to farmers, this new irrigation system will increase yield and reduce water demand.
“We are holding a demonstration of this new technology to the Valley to show to other farmers, as well as an opportunity for Valmont industries to show off their equipment, and demonstrate the capabilities this unit can perform in our desert growing region and how it can be a sustainable edition to a grower's portfolio,” said Leimgruber.
Officials from IID were in attendance as well as University of California cooperative extension representatives who were conducting crop evapotranspiration research studies.
Engineers, sales representatives from Valmont industries, local growers, and valley agricultural professionals were also present for the demonstration.
According to ag professionals, linears were introduced in the late 80s but were under engineered and under designed at the time.
“These machines are typically used in the Midwest to supplement rainwater,” said Leimgruber. “Here, in the desert, we get almost no rainwater, so we have to put on a lot more water to keep our crops viable.”
Organizers said the linear style machine has the capacity to put on the large amounts of water that is needed to yield a sustainable crop, while still being profitable.
The unit being displayed was a half mile long.
“When it gets longer than that [half mile], inertia and resistance issues come in to play so one would lose pressure at ends,” said Leimgruber. “We need uniformity for equal pressure, hence the pump unit in the middle of the field, as opposed to one of the ends so to get as equal and uniform water distribution as possible. These linear water units give us a lot of flexibility to not only grow a hay crop, but head lettuce and others as well.”
Ronald C. Leimgruber Farms also incorporates a weather station to monitor the field's heat, humidity, wind direction, and other information that a weather station would put out. However, his weather station focuses on localized weather for a better understanding of what's going on in the field and when to apply water.
“The weather station is just another means of acquiring more data, which is information that allows us to make better decisions,” said Leimgruber.
Both units (linear irrigator and weather station) complement each other to seek out the best possible answer as to what the crop needs. This allows farmers to preserve resources.
“We want to make sure that we are utilizing the water, which is a very precious resource in the desert southwest, to its upmost potential,” said Leimgruber.
According to experts, the Valmont Industries linear units are designed specifically for the field they're in. They are predominantly permanent stationary units, with a projected lifespan of 50 years or more and are valued at several hundred thousand dollars.
“This is all in all a demonstration of how vital agriculture is to the Imperial Valley and the desert region and also to display that farmers are progressive and willing to adapt to changing climate issues to find the most positive way to continue to be economical,” said Leimgruber.